GABRIEL PICCOLO has warned the rampant Celtic attack that the Partick Thistle defence will not be intimidated by them.

With Conrad Balatoni crocked, the Mexican stopper - whose full name is Gabriel Rojo de la Vega Piccolo - returned to the Jags backline at Inverness last weekend after two months on the sidelines.

But, despite the daunting prospect of trying to shackle Kris Commons, Anthony Stokes and Leigh Griffiths, the mean and moody defensive ace says he is relishing the challenge ahead.

The stopper said: "Our back four is very strong, has been strong lately, so we'll just keep working hard.

"There is nothing special we can do, even if they play with two up top, three, it doesn't matter. We have to do the same work.

"It's always good to play against those quality of players to see where you stand. To compare yourself and get better and I'm looking forward to it.

"They could be the best I've played against, I don't know. But I'm trying to be ready for any kind of striker. It doesn't matter who they are, or that it's Celtic, it is still 11 versus 11."

While Neil Lennon's SPFL Premiership champions-elect have handed out several thrashings over the course of their runaway title campaign, including a majestic five-goal mauling of League Cup finalists Inverness at Parkhead, Thistle have proven strangely obdurate opposition for the Bhoys.

Both previous games between the two sides have been won by the Parkhead side via single-goal margins.

PICCOLO said: "In the last game with Celtic at Parkhead we did things very well and had the chance to win. But we have another opportunity at Firhill tonight, so we're looking forward to it.

"We've been performing well, but now results are coming our way so it helps with the confidence. It could be a good day for us.

"Anything for us, if it's Celtic, any team, any point, it's huge for us. We are in a hard situation, doing well but still struggling in the position of the league. So any point, home or away, is good for us.

"But points never lie. If we are in that situation it is because of something. I do think we've been performing very well, at a very high standard, but we're still struggling at the bottom of the league and points don't lie.

"So we just need to get better on some details to pick up more points and be where we think we deserve to be."

Despite the defeat at Inverness in which the Highlanders had keeper Dean Brill to thank for taking three points, Thistle have crucially begun to win at home at exactly the right time.

Back-to-back successes over Aberdeen and Hibs will ensure that Alan Archibald's side run out tonight with renewed belief in front of the supporters in the Jackie Husband Stand.

Piccolo said: "The crowd is happier now we've been performing better at Firhill, so it should be better now.

"We have a very good team, there are players on the bench that perform very well when they are needed, and the ones playing already.

"When we went to Parkhead last game, we had the better chances, with Dools, with Lyle, with Higgy, Kristie played on the right, so I think we can make things very good tonight."